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Phosphorus: Complex, Inefficient, Essential

The complicated soil chemistry affecting plant uptake of phosphorus leads to tremendous inefficiencies between what is applied and what the crop uses.

Jul 12, 2016

Cary, N.C (July 12, 2016)

Managing phosphorous for optimum plant uptake and increased yield potential is no easy task.

“Because of the effects of soil mineralogy, phosphorus is complex to manage, and this complexity makes it highly inefficient,” said Todd Carpenter, technical development manager for Verdesian Life Sciences. “The majority of phosphorus fertilizer applied – up to 75 percent – will not be available to the current crop, due to the interaction of positively charged metals and negatively charged phosphate ions in soil.”

Carpenter explains that a typical acre slice of soil might have up to 3,000 pounds of total phosphorus, yet only one to two pounds of that phosphorus could be in the soluble form and available for plant uptake at any given time. “There is no way to know when the fixed phosphorus will become available for uptake – it might be one growing season, it might be five, and it may not even be in the farmer’s lifetime,” he said.

Given this scenario – combined with current farm economics and uncertainty over land leases – many farmers who lease land are reluctant to make sizeable fertilizer investments, especially with phosphorus, when they cannot be sure they will be farming the same land in the future. “Understandably, farmers don’t want to invest in long-term nutrient building on land that someone else might be farming the next year,” Carpenter said.

A solution to this dilemma involves the use of AVAIL® Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer from Verdesian Life Sciences. “When AVAIL is applied with either dry or liquid phosphorus formulations, we know that much more of the phosphorus will be used by crops during that growing season, meaning more of the fertilizer dollars spent this year end up in this year’s harvest,” Carpenter added.

AVAIL is a unique polymer formulation designed to minimize the fixation of phosphorus in soil that happens when positively charged calcium, magnesium, aluminum and iron ions bind with the negatively charged phosphate. Carpenter cites recent, ongoing research at North Carolina State University that indicates AVAIL acts as a shield between the positively charged ions bound to the soil mineral surface and the negatively charged phosphate from fertilizer, allowing more phosphorus to become available in soluble form for plant uptake. Carpenter said. “These research findings are very exciting and shed considerable light on how AVAIL helps improve phosphorus fertilizer use efficiency.” With many farmers considering reducing rates of applied phosphorus to lower production costs, it is important to first check with their local retailer or agronomist. Carpenter recommends, “If you do choose to reduce your phosphorus rates, then you need to use AVAIL.”

Further information about Verdesian is available at vlsci.com.
Important: Always read and follow label use directions.
AVAIL is a registered trademark of Verdesian Life Sciences. © 2016 Verdesian Life Sciences. All rights reserved.